Mission critical: sustainability education as core business in australian universities

Lorne Butt, Elizabeth More, Gayle C. Avery

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review


Education for Sustainability (EfS) is variously recognised by universities as part of becoming a sustaining organisation; central to institutions' moral obligations in terms of graduate capabilities; and essential to curriculum innovation, reinvention and renewal. However, its implementation into curricula on a global basis is variable, with some countries being more advanced than others. At the discipline level, sustainability may be embedded as core content, or given only tokenistic support through elective offerings. This paper examines EfS as both a business and moral driver of curriculum change in universities and the associated barriers that may be encountered during implementation. The results from desktop research and semi-structured interviews with employees responsible for sustainability programs from four universities in the metropolitan region of Sydney, Australia, are presented. The research indicates that the idea of EfS as a business and moral driver of curriculum change was generally well understood. However, the reality was that EfS as a demonstrable business and graduate outcome is still some years in the future for three of the institutions. The paper concludes by suggesting that university leaders require a deeper understanding of the 'business value-add' of EfS, and its capacity as a driver of innovation and competitive differentiation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 8th International Symposium on Sustainable Leadership, 2013
EditorsBronwyn Hughes, Gayle C. Avery
Place of PublicationPymble, NSW
PublisherInstitute for Sustainable Leadership
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9780987461827
Publication statusPublished - 2013
EventInternational Symposium on Sustainable Leadership (8th : 2013) - Nice, France
Duration: 4 Jun 20137 Jun 2013


ConferenceInternational Symposium on Sustainable Leadership (8th : 2013)
CityNice, France


  • education
  • sustainability
  • universities
  • leadership
  • core business


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